WTR Industry Awards 2020: the shortlist revealed

The WTR Industry Awards 2020 honour leading trademark teams and individuals across a range of sectors. Here we unveil the shortlist.

Asia-Pacific Team of the Year

  • Alibaba
  • Havells Group
  • Unilever
  • JD.com
  • L Brands

Europe, Middle East and Africa Team of the Year

  • Lindt
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Daniel Wellington
  • IKEA
  • Lego

Latin America Team of the Year

  • Carnot Laboratorios
  • Grupo Bimbo
  • Grupo Boticário
  • Grupo Globo
  • BRF

North America Team of the Year

  • Nestlé
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Apple
  • Discovery Inc
  • New Balance

Fashion, Cosmetics and Luxury Goods Team of the Year

  • Boardriders
  • Crocs
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Supreme (Chapter 4 Corp)

Financial and Professional Services Team of the Year

  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • BDO Unibank Inc
  • Deloitte
  • PayPal

Food, Beverages and Tobacco Team of the Year

  • Mars
  • Nestlé
  • Treasury Wine Estates
  • Philip Morris
  • PepsiCo

Healthcare and Life Sciences Team of the Year

  • Gilead Sciences
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • CSL Behring
  • Ferring Pharmaceuticals
  • Khiron Life Sciences Corp

Household and Consumer Goods Team of the Year

  • 3M
  • Unilever
  • IKEA
  • Spectrum Brands
  • Johnson & Johnson

Internet and Telecommunications Team of the Year

  • Verizon
  • Charter Communications
  • Google
  • Sky International
  • Huawei

Not-for-Profit Organisation Team of the Year

  • UL
  • Rotary International
  • Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
  • Forest Stewardship Council
  • Scotch Whisky Association

Retail Team of the Year

  • Starbucks
  • Indigo
  • Mattel
  • Maus Frères
  • Spencer’s Retail

Software and Online Services Team of the Year

  • Facebook
  • Amazon.com
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Epic Games
  • Adobe

Sports, Entertainment and Media Team of the Year

  • Netflix
  • WWE
  • Disney
  • Decathlon
  • Entertainment One

Technology and Consumer Electronics Team of the Year

  • Intel
  • Western Digital
  • Samsung
  • Apple
  • LG Display

Travel and Leisure Team of the Year

  • Expedia
  • Bolt
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Marriott International
  • Uber

Vehicles and Transport Team of the Year

  • Daimler AG
  • Honda Motor (China) Investment Co
  • Harley-Davidson
  • Aston Martin Lagonda
  • BMW


In-house leader of the year: the nominees

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Ali Buttars, Netflix

At entertainment giant Netflix, head of trademarks Ali Buttars’ team is responsible for house and title brands globally, including title clearance for all original content, registration strategies, brand protection and enforcement matters. To succeed in that endeavour, Buttars has innovated clearance and prosecution strategies to meet ever-changing business needs and, nominees note, has assembled an “all-star” team of outside counsel who collaborate with each other, as well as with the wider company. As a non-attorney heading up the department, she was identified as a “trailblazer” who is “breaking the ceiling for non-attorneys in the trademark industry”. One nominator concluded: “Her business acumen, deep trademark expertise and strong interpersonal skills make her an outstanding in-house professional.”

Lesley Skipp, Boardriders

In 2018 sports and lifestyle company Boardriders completed the acquisition of Billabong, creating an action sports company with customers in more than 110 countries, e-commerce capabilities in 35 countries and over 630 retail stores in 28 countries. As with any major consolidation, it also created significant challenges for the IP team. A 14-year veteran with the group, Lesley Skipp serves as global IP manager and played a central role in this – and subsequent – endeavours, working closely with IP professionals in jurisdictions all over the world as her team seeks to protect brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver, Roxy, RVCA, DCShoes and Element. One nominator stated that the troupe has “set the gold standard in how a brand should defend its intellectual property”, with Skipp praised for her passion, sophistication in legal matters and ability to lead a side that is “moving mountains”.

Cam Gatta, Microsoft Corporation

Cam Gatta joined Microsoft in 2017, working as an IP lawyer in the company’s trademarks team before – in October – being elevated to senior attorney, head of trademarks. In this role, he is responsible for multi-jurisdictional trademark portfolio management, as well as advising on multi-jurisdictional infringement and contentious registry matters, and counselling on brand use and guidelines, brand development and naming processes, due diligence and registration strategies, with client training to boot. Overseeing a smooth transition into his new role, nominators praised him for his “forward thinking approach to re-imagining the prosecution, maintenance and defence of Microsoft’s trademark portfolio”. He has also worked closely and collaboratively with outside counsel as he embarks on the “implementation of his new vision” and re-prioritisation of long-term goals.

Qing (Alan) Liu, Johnson & Johnson

Alan Liu is director of global brand protection, Asia-Pacific, for Johnson & Johnson. However, he started his career by spending more than seven years in law enforcement at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, before bringing his skills to the corporate environment. Regarded as an “innovator” in his efforts to lead a team responsible for product integrity, brand protection and security management for the company in the region, he also engages in advocacy work on IP issues. On top of his duties at Johnson & Johnson, he is chair of the American Society for Industrial Security Shanghai chapter and co-chair for the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, China. He also seeks to further the IP environment through participation in the Quality Brands Protection Committee, speaking engagements and training with enforcement authorities.

David Modzeleski, Discovery Inc

David Modzeleski is senior vice president, intellectual property and litigation at Discovery Inc, where he is responsible for managing the company’s global IP portfolio and its litigation function. The role is a critical one in an organisation that operates in 220 countries and is embarked on an innovative programme of launches that in 2019 saw the likes of the Food Kitchen Network – a first-of-its-kind direct-to-consumer product with proprietary streaming technology that offers consumers live, interactive cooking instructions, grocery and equipment delivery and more than 800 on-demand classes – go live. Playing an essential part in these endeavours, Modzeleski was praised by nominees for his “outstanding work in overseeing IP assets of different and varied natures” and his “practical and effective commercial vision”. One nominee concluded: “He looks after Discovery’s global IP assets across 220 countries yet manages to do so with ease and charm. His attention to detail, coupled with an ability to focus on the bigger picture, is second to none.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Boney Denison retired from her position as USPTO commissioner for trademarks at the end of 2019. Before joining the office, Denison was a founding partner of Manelli Denison & Selter, practising in trademark prosecution and litigation, before becoming a partner at Graham & James, where she practised for 10 years. She was a member of the INTA board of directors for three years and served another three-year term on the USPTO Trademark Public Advisory Committee. In 2011 she joined the USPTO as deputy commissioner for trademark operations, where she was responsible for trademark application, legal examination and registration processes. She became trademark commissioner for the office on 1 January 2015 – a role that required oversight of all aspects of the trademarks organisation, including policy, operations and budget relating to trademark examination, registration and maintenance. She has since led outreach to the trademark legal community, small businesses and applicants without legal counsel, while also being an active participant in meetings with the world’s largest IP offices, promoting projects aimed at harmonising trademark practices and procedures. At the USPTO she initiated several projects to enhance and expand internal and external communications, as well as employee career development. She also spearheaded efforts to move towards implementing mandatory electronic filing for trademarks, decluttering the register, updating IT systems and enhancing the customer experience. 

Mary Boney Denison

Mary Boney Denison

Awards methodology

The WTR Industry Awards are designed to recognise the vital work performed by in-house trademark counsel and to identify those teams and individuals performing their functions to the highest possible standards.

The list of nominees is the result of four months of extensive research. During that time, World Trademark Review (WTR) surveyed its readers and selected members of the global trademark community for nominations across key industry categories. The WTR team analysed the recommendations, supplemented by its own extensive knowledge base, to draw up detailed shortlists featuring a number of outstanding candidates in each WTR Industry Awards category.

The nominees and eventual winners have been selected on the basis of a wide range of criteria relating to excellence, such as active prosecution and/or enforcement of trademarks in the relevant jurisdiction or field of industry; successful portfolio exploitation and rationalisation; strong industry/regional expertise; determination and diligence to ensure efficient cooperation with outside counsel; global attitude towards brand expansion and protection; and quality of internal organisation and in-house processes. Nominees were judged on activities for the period between January 2019 and January 2020. While the results were based on extensive objective research, the final decisions remain the subjective opinions of the WTR team.

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